This Friday, under Executive Order 13,692, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC pa los panas) sanctioned four more officials and former officials of the Venezuelan government, associated with corruption and repression in the country. Treasury secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said that Nicolás and his inner circle “continue to put their own interests above those of the Venezuelan people,” and that this action underscores the United States’ resolve to hold Maduro and others engaged in corruption in Venezuela accountable, calling all concerned parties around the world to join them and “further isolate this oppressive regime.”

The OFAC list now includes: Aragua governor and former Food minister Rodolfo Marco Torres; former Bolívar governor Francisco Rangel Gómez; ZODI Capital commander Fabio Zavarse Pabón and Gerardo Izquierdo Torres, executive secretary of the presidential commission on Border Affairs.

Later, Treasury Dept. spokeswoman Heather Nauert tweeted that Armed Forces members can’t expect immunity, but they can avoid sanctions by respecting the rule of law and changing their behaviour. Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza also took to Twitter, saying that the Armed Forces won’t bow to any foreign power.

UNT’s year

You may recall that MUD parties agreed to rotate the National Assembly’s speaker’s chair. Acción Democrática took the role during the first period with Henry Ramos Allup; then came Primero Justicia with Julio Borges and now it’s Un Nuevo Tiempo’s turn, but even though chavista lawmakers stopped showing up to sessions almost a year ago, they’re having problems approving the new Board, with tensions taking hold and disagreements expressed with considerable intensity.

Allegedly, UNT chose Omar Barboza to head the AN by consensus. Even if that were true, the event didn’t have any of the atmosphere of previous installations. The reaction on social media centred on the Legislative Branch’s uselessness in the face of the combined efforts of the TSJ and the ANC, which restricted the AN to the point that their only value is being the only institution recognized by other nations and international bodies. I’m being generous when I say Barboza’s speech was predictable; with reasonable goals but no explanation on how to make them work.

For 72 hours

Nicolás ordered the shutdown of all air and sea transport to Aruba, Curazao and Bonaire for 72 hours, claiming he did it to defend Venezuela’s economic interests. He also urged the governments of these islands to implement the measures he’s been demanding in recent years, because the dramatic scarcity we’re suffering is allegedly caused by smugglers.

I didn’t want to take a measure like this, but I’m even willing to implement an even more radical measure,” said Nicolás, before demanding renewed efforts to establish “a healthy trade” with these islands and offering “full guarantees” of transport for Venezuelans who are currently in them, as well as for the citizens of Aruba, Curazao and Bonaire who are currently in Venezuela, without explaining such guarantees or how he’d make them possible.

Dollars

Nicolás is a genius. So much so that this Friday, he made it clear that he’ll try to get dollars from Venezuelans who left the country fleeing from his government. He announced the creation of a new system of currency allocation that allows families to send financial support replacing the current Dicom, which hasn’t sold dollars to private entities since August, 2017.

Speaking of financial support is acknowledging the dimension of the diaspora and with it, trying to create a new revenue mechanism. Nicolás wants the BCV to get the proposal for the “new” Dicom system early on Monday; another modification to the FX controls imposed by chavismo in 2003, without touching the protected exchange rate that the government keeps for itself, and extraordinary source of corruption. He didn’t talk about yuans, rubles or rupees, nor did he establish the connection between the shutdown of currency allocations and shortages.

The petro, again

Seemingly clueless that cryptocurrencies are mined rather than issued, Nicolás announced the issuance of 100 million petros, the debt bond that equals the value of an oil barrel (currently $59), according to him. He also convened the first national meeting of petro miners for January 14, when he’ll reveal the Petro White Paper: the birth certificate of a non-existent cryptocurrency!, promising to install special mining areas across the country.

He claimed that whoever holds a petro will get a virtual wallet. If this was true, then it would mean the creation of a parallel currency and, even though Niocolás has said from the start that the petro is meant to sidesteps the financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. against his government, his level of ignorance on the matter is so obvious, that few could take is an effective mechanism.

Unaccountability speech

The Constitution establishes that Nicolás must present an accountability speech before the National Assembly. He broke this rule in 2017 and gave his speech before the same TSJ that nullified all of Parliament’s authority, since it’s the only institution that the Administration doesn’t control.

Yesterday, the ANC called on him to give his speech before them -a proposal made by Cilia Flores, Nicolás’ wife-, because that’s what being chavismo-imposed superpower is for, usurping legislative functions and stalling the writing of a new Constitution, the only thing they should be doing. Obviously, the proposal was unanimously approved, so Nicolás won’t give an accountability speech, he’ll just talk for hours before a room full of lackeys that will shout slogans and applaud his unverifiable achievements.

Controlled and spontaneous lootings

Sundde calls their crackdown on shops “inspections”, and they use them to control, use and impose their “authority” to carry out a sort of controlled lootings, some kind of exhausts for the general tension caused by shortages and hyperinflation. Yesterday, they imposed their list of “fair” prices to supermarket chain Gamma, which won’t be able to replenish products after such a tremendous loss.

But there were also spontaneous lootings in Caicara del Orinoco (Bolívar State); in a PDVAL in Trujillo; in several stores of the municipal market of Puerto La Cruz (Anzoátegui) and in a PDVAL warehouse in Zulia. In Caracas, there were looting attempts in a couple of supermarkets located in Terrazas del Ávila and Montalbán.

The black market dollar is rising at a chilling rate.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. The 72-hour closure of the connections between Venezuela and the islands is a red herring. The measure of real significance in the announcement was the takeover of some half a dozen small ports and airports by the military. It seems that DC and his faction wants to expand its drug trafficking with additional distribution centers.

  2. How will the new DICOM system work? Is there a preset exchange rate, or truly bidding (in Bs) for USDs, where the government sells the $ to the highest bidder? Sorry if this is explained elsewhere and I am being lazy for asking.

    My Venezuelan colleague has elderly parents in Venezuela (kids all migrated to US/Spain). She and her siblings have been supporting their parents by transferring USD to a bank account of someone living in VE, and that person would pay her mom in Bs at the DT exchange rate (or something close). She used to be able to do this exchange regularly with a single person for $100 US, but as the DT rate starting ramping up and cash shortages kicked in, she needed to do smaller exchanges (e.g., $25) with multiple people, and now she says she has a hard time finding anyone to do even a small USD amount exchange because they do not have the Bs. No doubt, she is not alone in this situation of no one to exchange with.

    Normally, supply and demand kick in, and the exchange rate drops so people will part with precious/scarce Bs. But this situation is not “normally” …

  3. “…Barboza’s speech was predictable; with reasonable goals but no explanation on how to make them work.”

    then

    “…said Nicolás… without explaining such guarantees or how he’d make them possible.”

    ~~~

    I see a pattern, Boy Wonder!

    I guess that is why I got into business instead of politics. I have the uncanny superhuman ability to tell my customers what I want them to hear, not what they want to hear*. And they love me for it.

    Bullshit is my arch villain.

    *Years ago, a potential customer approached me about a building he wanted built. He had already fired two previous builders. He wanted the near impossible (the laws of gravity must we abide) for X amount of dollars. Could I do it? “Yes”, I told him… “I can suspend one of the 4 fundamental forces of nature… but it will cost far far more than X dollars.”

    He thought it was amazing… the other builders tried to change this customers mind in order to win the job with a target budget. I told him what he needed to hear. It COULD get done, but it wouldn’t be easy nor cheap. This is what ails politicians. They are afraid of not getting/losing the job, as opposed to telling the people what they need to hear. THE TRUTH. From what I have gathered in my mere 54 years of exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide, the TRUTH is like Kryptonite to a politician.

    (The building didn’t get built, because what he wanted done was a HUGE budget buster, and also various building codes and local/state ordinances would have been violated)

  4. By the way, would one of the CC editor/managers please email me with instructions for making a one-time, non-recurring donation via credit card? Thank you!

  5. The “spontaneous lootings” were a trick of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF. The party would make sure their members were told in advance which stores would be forced to lower their prices, so that the party members (and not the general public) could cash in.

  6. A lot of venezuelan oil goes to curacao to be refined and resold and some other to tank farms in bonaire for on delivery to Chinese customers as payment of chinese loans to the govt and Pdvsa , are these shipments affected by the measure ?? Why is no mention of this boomerang effect of the closing of the maritime frontiers to the three antillean islands made anywhere ??

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